The centre was opened by Sir James Ramsay, Governor of Queensland, on the 22/3/1984 with 1000 members previously signed up. The centre, costing about $500,000 ($1.1 m in 2004 values), was sponsored by the Rotary Club of Chermside, which spent six years working towards this goal. Considerable financial assistance was provided by both State and Commonwealth governments and the Brisbane City Council granted the centre a 20 year lease of portion of Annand Park, renamed Burnie Brae Park in 1997.
The centre is named after the Hamilton family home which stood nearby on this land from 1873 till it was demolished almost 80 years later in 1952. On reflection this is one house that should have been preserved at public expense because of its very great historic value. However in the 1950s people didn't think in those terms and the building was lost forever.
Why the Centre is Needed.
The need for the centre arose from the aging of the local population, the longer life spans due in part to better diet and medical advances and also the changing attitude to older people. Elderly people are no longer content to 'live out their days' sitting at home or in the local park. They want to be active in the local community and meet other people and use the skills they have acquired over many years. Most of them have mobility, they still drive their own cars and the centre has parking for 350 cars.
Mr Brian Austin, State Health Minister said that with life expectancy increasing, retirement formed a significant portion of a person's life. "It marks the beginning of perhaps 20 or more years of a new way of living. Senior citizens' centres are therefore an integral part of our community in providing opportunities for people to live life to the full."
Functions of the Centre
Burnie Brae provides a one-stop shop for seniors' services in North Brisbane. Tai chi, bowls, dancing, aqua aerobics, transport, support services for seniors, the frail and the younger disabled. Respite services, Welfare Office, Home Assist Secure, Meals on wheels and others.
In 2004 the Social Isolation Project of the Brisbane City Council was started at the Centre to reach out to people who are isolated in their own homes and link together people who can identify older people at risk of social isolation. The centre can then contact the isolated persons in order to help them cope with their problems; Meals on Wheels is one such organisation that helps to find the socially isolated individuals.
Membership in 2009 is about 1,300 and with new members joining at a level which slightly exceeds the attrition rate the membership is fairly constant.
Q150 Celebration and Burnie Brae
Burnie Brae's contribution to the Q150 celebrations in 2009 was the commissioning of art work, celebrating the achievements of early settlers in the district.
Some photos from the Chermside and Districts Historical Society's collection were selected to represent the many families who had had a long association with the area.
Jamie McLean, the artist, incorporated photos, a map, several artifacts from blacksmith and farming occupations into an archway built from recycled timber at the entrance to the community garden.
The Burnie Brae Commemorative Archway was officially unveiled by Stirling Hinchliffe, MLA, on 18 November 2009. The occasion was also an opportunity to open Burnie Brae's new café, called Café Connect.